Researching business schools: 5 tips for International applicants


There are two very good reasons (1) It SIGNIFICANTLY boosts your chances of getting in. Why? Because the ad-com notices it;  you get great content to write your application; you can’t ace the interview without proper research  (2) It helps you AVOID unnecessary mistakes.



Traditionally there are two research techniques (1) primary research techniques (2) secondary research techniques. Primary research techniques involve getting a firsthand view of things. For example, here you will actually visit a business school, meet students, attend a class or speak with students via Skype. On the other hand, secondary research technique would involve reading blogs, website, scanning forums such as GMAT club and Beat the GMAT.

It is quite obvious that primary research techniques are far superior to the secondary ones. However, due to time, effort and cost involved in primary research, it is a more difficult option to execute, especially for international students. Here are our 5 practical tips to maximise your ROI on your MBA school research.



  1. Start early:

– Nothing beats visiting a school, however, 99% of the international candidates cannot execute this option. If you are an international candidate, you are likely to be compared against the same applicant pool. (READ HOW YOUR PROFILE IS COMPARED)

– In order to differentiate you need to have QUALITY CONVERSATIONS, for this you need to start early. Usually investing three months in your application should give you ample amount of time.

  1. Explore the right forums:
  • Go beyond looking for school’s websites and student’s blog (these are very primary). Try speaking with current students by contacting them on Linkedin/Facebook. A 15-20 minute conversation is likely to give you more useful information than spending hours googling stuff.
  1. Approach the right people:
  • We cannot stress this point enough. When you are contacting alumni from a business school, don’t waste their time and yours’ by speaking with people, whose profile does not match with yours’. For eg. if you are an investment banker and want to say in the same industry, then please don’t reach out to the President of the Consulting Club (we are assuming that you don’t have ANY OTHER fit with this person).
  1. Ask the right questions:
  • First, limit your questions to at most 4-5, make a list of questions that you would like to ask before hand. It is okay to ask a few questions on the fly, but please don’t prepare the entire interview script on the go!
  • Second, ask for customised information, which you are unlikely to find online. For eg. don’t ask what percentage of students get into strategy consulting; ask whether Deloitte’s strategy consulting arm hires (because from the employment report you will just see “Deloitte” as the employer not its Strategy Consulting arm) on campus and what is the best way to approach them.
  • Keep your questions specific to yourself i.e to your background, your career goals, nationality etc. For eg. if you are an Indian from an IT background, then please don’t ask how folks with a background in marketing can differentiate their profiles to get in.
  1. Be courteous:
  • Since you will be asking for someone’s time, please be courteous. Not only is this a professional practice. But, lack of it could get your application thrown in the bin.